BEDFORD, N.Y. - Over bitter protests from law officers, 1960s radical Kathy Boudin was released from prison Wednesday after serving 22 years for murder in an armored car heist that left two policemen and a security guard dead.
"I'm physically ill right now," said Brent Newbury, president of the Rockland County Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "I can't believe I just saw Kathy Boudin walk out of prison."
Boudin, 60, a former Weather Underground member, was granted parole last month despite heavy opposition of relatives, friends and colleagues of the slain men.
On Wednesday morning, she walked out of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County with her lawyer, Leonard Weinglass.
Wearing a loose white shirt, black pants and white sneakers, Boudin repeatedly turned back toward the prison to wave farewell to several inmate friends gathered at a window. After the long goodbye, she climbed into a sport utility vehicle and was driven away behind a police car.
There were no active protesters, but a few members of the police association were on hand "to make sure that we don't forget the police officers and the security officer who were slain," Newbury said. "Kathy Boudin needs to know that when she's sleeping safely tonight, she's being protected by police officers just like the ones that she was involved in murdering."
Boudin was once a member of the Weather Underground — a group that helped define the radical anti-war movement of the 1960s with its violent protests and bombings.
She was later recruited for the robbery by Black Liberation Army members and other radicals. The robbers stole $1.6 million from a Brink's armored car at a suburban mall and killed security guard Peter Paige. The two policemen, Sgt. Edward O'Grady and Officer Waverly Brown, were gunned down when the truck, with Boudin in the passenger seat, was stopped at a roadblock and gang members burst from the back of the vehicle with automatic weapons firing.
Boudin was caught as she fled. She had been a fugitive for the previous decade after she was seen running from an explosion at a New York City townhouse where bombs allegedly were being made.
Boudin, the daughter of the late civil rights attorney Leonard Boudin, was convicted of murder and robbery and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in the robbery.
One of the details of Boudin's new life was announced about seven hours after her release. Kathleen McGovern, a spokeswoman for St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan, said Boudin will take a job at the hospital developing programs for HIV (news - web sites)-positive women.
Boudin will be under routine parole restrictions including a 10 p.m. curfew and limits on travel for the rest of her life.
The hospital job would echo some of the work Boudin did in prison that helped her win parole — organizing programs for AIDS (news - web sites) patients and inmates with children, for example.
Anamarie Scala-Doran, whose police officer father was killed in an attempted robbery in 1975 while guarding St. Luke's payroll, was outraged by word of the job.
"It's offensive to my family and me that my father gave his life protecting the people of St. Luke's Hospital, yet they would consider employing a person guilty of murdering police officers," she said in an opinion piece in Wednesday's New York Post.
Gov. George Pataki announced his disapproval when Boudin's parole was granted in August, and there are signs of a shakeup to come. Board Chairman Brion Travis has told his fellow commissioners he is giving up "day-to-day administrative responsibilities" for the board, and state government sources said the move was a direct result of the Boudin parole decision. Thomas Grant, spokesman for the state Parole Division, denied that.
Too soon, if you ask me.